NORFOLK — The writer Norton Girault, author of a short story collection, Out Among the Roster Men, and a historical novel, Andre Boulanger, died on Sunday, Dec. 2. Girault was a longtime friend of the Old Dominion University MFA Creative Writing Program and a U.S. Navy veteran who served during World War II. He was 100 and is survived by his longtime companion, Wendy Miller.
Sheri Reynolds, the author, professor and chair of the Old Dominion University Department of English, announced the passing of Girault this week in an email. Girault was beloved within the creative writing program as a perennial student who attended countless workshops, always seeking to better his craft. He began taking classes at the university in 1974.
“Norton was an ODU student for more than forty years,” Reynolds wrote. “There’s no question that he taught us more than we taught him.”
In March, during a celebration of Girault’s birthday, the author and professor John McManus, director of the creative writing program, spoke of Girault’s dedication to writing, which began well before his days at Old Dominion.
“Norton’s inspiring and impressive literary career began more than 80 years ago in Louisiana, where he studied fiction with Robert Penn Warren,” McManus said. “From there he went on to serve as a communications officer aboard cruisers and destroyers in the Atlantic and Pacific during World War II.”
And Janet Peery, an author and professor in the program, said this of coming to know Girault and his “golden” words in 2012, while introducing him during the annual ODU Literary Festival: “In fiction workshops, though I was supposed to be the teacher, his elegant and astute critiques kept me on my toes. He never let on, but we both knew he knew more than I did.”
Earlier that year, Girault in an interview spoke of writing as a passion and a calling. This lifelong love was something he put into human terms.
“It’s a way of making sense out of your experience,” he said.
In addition to his works, Girault’s name lives through the international Norton Girault Literary Prize, awarded through the program and its online literary journal, Barely South Review, which can be found via barelysouthreview.com.
An obituary can be found at the following link, and a video interview follows:
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